When working with groups to understand their strengths, it always interests me just how many people have the character strength of kindness in their top 5.
Not because I don’t think leaders are kind – but because kindness is not one of the key words that people use when talking about leadership.
Indeed many leaders are a bit taken aback when they see it listed there. But when they understand more about what it brings to their performance, they find it uplifting and feel that they have been given permission to be more themselves at work. In fact it works wonders on their teams and colleagues. Here’s why:
When in touch with your strength of kindness, you are compassionate and concerned about the welfare of others. You perform good deeds for others and take care of them.
Kindness is underpinned by the philosophy that we are all part of a common humanity in which others are worthy of attention and affirmation. Kind people do not help others because they expect this help to be reciprocated, or reputational gain or other benefits but simply for the sake of being kind. (Paradoxically though, it massively increases the likelihood of others being kind to you).
Kindness is fulfilling. It takes us “outside ourselves” and focuses us on taking care of others, which helps make us feel complete and content.
Observing kindness elevates others; it seems to enable them to connect with their own inner compassion. Researchers have shown that merely seeing someone act in an altruistic way leads others to do the same.
Kindness is associated with many mental and physical health benefits. Volunteering, specifically, has been linked to a reduced risk of early death.